ULV reiterates harassment policies

by Heather Baxter
Staff Writer
Michelle Thornton
Special to the Times

Often times, students at the University of La Verne feel they live in a bubble that allows them to look out on the world and its happenings with a watchful eye. In doing so, these students might think, “That stuff does not happen at La Verne.”

In actuality, it does.

A variety of important and pressing issues occur in and around ULV daily. Students, staff and faculty may not be aware of these issues but that does not mean they do not exist.

One major issue on college campuses is harassment. ULV is not immune to harassment, and it has policies in effect to guide students and faculty on how to handle and exist in a harassment-free environment.

According to the University’s Disciplinary Process for Student Social Misconduct booklet, any incidence of sexual harassment or assault is taken seriously.

The booklet defines sexual harassment and assault as gender-related verbal or physical conduct that takes place under certain circumstances.

Those circumstances may exist if “there is a threat that submission to or rejection of the conduct will affect a person’s grade or other type of evaluation or recommendation; 2) the behavior interferes with the victim’s academic or work performance, or creates an intimidating hostile, offensive, or otherwise adverse learning or work environment; and 3) the behavior interferes with the victim’s social relationships or creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive or otherwise adverse social environment.”

If it meets one of these three conditions, then behavior such as pressure for sexual activity, persistent sexually explicit stories, jokes or comments, repeated leering or staring at a person’s body, unwanted or inappropriate physical contact, suggestive or obscene notes or phone calls, the display of sexually explicit pictures or cartoons and invasion of one’s personal space can all be classified as harassment or assault.

The procedure a student should follow if such an event was to occur would be to, first and foremost, report the incident. Nothing can be done if there is no record of the matter.

If the victim is a resident, he or she should report the incident to Housing personnel first. In most cases, Housing and Residential Life officials will take necessary actions to resolve the problem.

If the victim is a commuter, he or she must report the incident to John Lentz, director of Campus Safety and transportation, and he will deal with the matter with the student affairs office. It will then be decided if the matter is serious enough to reach either of the University’s judicial type committees-the Judicial Board or the Student Life Conduct Committee.

What is done after that depends on several factors and the individual situation.

“Each situation is going to be different. What is consistent and fair is the process,” Dr. Loretta Rahmani, dean of Student Affairs, said. She also said each situation and each student is taken into consideration individually.

What is consistent in ULV’s judicial procedures is that they are enforced across the board.

“How do we protect students and how do we go through the process if the incident is not reported?” Ruby Montaño-Cordova, assistant dean of student services, said of the importance of reporting harassment.

There are specific steps that are taken by the Student Affairs office when a person persists in harassing another person, whether it be student-to-student, or otherwise.

“The victim always has a right to report it, whether it is a persisting problem or not. There are judicial processes that will then take place,” said Montaño-Cordova. “First, a statement will be taken in order to find out about the circumstances of the incident. Through this, it is important to establish the relationship between the two people. Then we try to find out about the accused.”

She said it is vital to remember, however, that an accused person has rights. An accusation does not guarantee guilt.

“A person who is accused has fundamental fairness rights to have their story told,” said Montaño-Cordova.

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